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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Leon Draisaitl “A superstar… who is unknown to most Germans” featured on Germany’s top sports channel

Hockey isn’t a very big deal in Germany, but they’re excited about what Leon Draisaitl is doing overseas. Earlier this week, The Sportschau produced a five-minute feature about The German Gretzky on The WDR, Germany’s national television and radio producer.

It isn’t common that hockey gets coverage in Germany. Even Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the top German hockey league, is shoved down the pecking order for Bundesliga soccer. So it’s pretty cool for a top sports producer to put together a featured video on Draisaitl.

With a massive hat tip to Reddit user DeadBeesOnACake, we have a solid translation of what’s being said in the video. I recommend reading the text first to get an idea of what the topics of conversation are and then watching the video in German. It’s interesting watching a German broadcasted show Edmonton and the Oilers from a very outside perspective.

Here comes a superstar – still unknown to most in Germany: Leon Draisaitl.

Edmonton, Canada. Where the legendary Wayne Gretzky once won the Stanley Cup – the championship – great plans are underway. In the city’s centre the Ice District is being built – a huge area with the finished stadium at its heart.

We’re visiting the 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl this week. Last season, Draisaitl helped lead the Edmonton Oilers into the playoffs, after a streak of 11 unsuccessful years. In this season, they are now candidates for the title.

Leon: That’s always everyone’s goal, to win the Stanley Cup, and that’s what’s gonna happen.

Signed by the Oilers three years ago, Draisaitl the probably greatest German talent so far. Present at the ceremony: his mother and his father – Peter Draisaitl, former national player.

Peter: Is this great or what?

Leon: Awesome, nothing could top this! Oilers! Centre!

Previous season, Leon Draisaitl with 93 score points – one of the best in the world’s best league.

Leon: You get recognized everywhere, people want pictures, and even during the games, during practice … the place is packed almost every time.

Cologne in September. Draisaitl’s home town. On a day people are starting Carnival celebrations early, we meet Draisaitl for the first time. In Canada, he’s a superstar. In Cologne however, no one recognizes him. Back then, it had only been a few days ago that he had signed an 8-year contract with the Oilers, one that will earn him 68 Million dollars in total.

Leon: For me, nothing changes. I’m still that boy from Cologne, the one who loves family, loves friends, and that will never change. Of course, that’s a large amount of money, and I’m aware of that, but those kinds of topics I’m actually trying to leave to the media.

As NHL professional, you spend your summers alone. Only two weeks before the start of the season, the team will train together again for the first time.

Draisaitl in the gym of the Cologne Sharks – his home team, where he started out at the age of five. Most of the preparation he has to do by himself. He is among the 12 best-paid NHL players. Never has a German hockey player earned more. High expectations.

Leon: I think, there’s always pressure, no matter what you sign or how much money is involved. There’s always a certain amount of pressure, when you play at that level.

For a few weeks, Draisaitl practices on the ice rink of the Cologne Sharks. Guided by former national forward player Thomas Brandl who used to play with Leon’s father. For hours, they work on goal practice.

Thomas: I’ve known Leon since he was born, played with his dad, with Peter, he used to sit in our cabin when he was a baby, and when you see how far he’s made it, of course it’s amazing, I’m really happy for him.

This week he started the season with Edmonton with a victory.

Leon: Yeah, of course, it’s cool to see that the hard work paid off a little, so far in any case.

Leon Draisaitl – a superstar in Canada with a huge contract. In three weeks, he’ll be turning 22.

There’s a good chance that Draisaitl is already the best German player in NHL history. While Walt Tkaczuk and Dany Heatley, the two top German NHL point producers, were both born in Germany, they didn’t grow up there like Draisaitl did. Uwe Krupp, Marco Sturm, Jochen Hecht, and Christian Ehrhoff are really the only star players we’ve ever seen who grew up in Germany, but Draisaitl is one of the league’s top players while none of those aforementioned guys ever were.

Will Leon being a bright star in the NHL result in hockey growing in Germany? Unlikely, but it would certainly be cool having a following of German Oilers fans who followed the team from the other side of the world.

  • WhoreableGuy

    I always find it odd they always choose “Gretzky” in relation to that Nation’s best player.
    The same was with Jiri Dopita as the “Czech Gretzky”.
    In reality both of these players haven’t come close to outscoring every other of their nation’s peer on any level. It’s almost kind of watering down the name “Gretzky”.

    I think the only player we can apply that to is Tony Hand, the Scottish Gretzky. Dude scored over 4000 professional league points.

    • J.R.

      It’s coming from the perspective that Draisaitl is potentially the best German player ever to play the game.

      Obviously there is a better player match elsewhere but it just doesn’t carry the same name familiarity to get the point across to the masses.

      Draisaitl’s a pretty damn good hockey player. If that is how they describe him back home so be it.

  • McJesus our Savior

    I was just in Cologne (Köln) this spring, walking around the city I saw quite a few Draisaitl Oiler jerseys around town. It was quite a weird sight to see in Germany, and I’m sure this isn’t the norm as they were hosting the Hockey Worlds, but it was still cool to see!

    • Dreadguy

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I think soccer and handball are bigger in Germany than hockey. That speaks to the national pride for a guy playing in the NHL. I’m glad he’s an Oiler for 8+ seasons.

  • DonEnrico

    And since Germany is a country here in Europe, your comment is about?

    But yes, football (soccer) is a much bigger sport than hockey in almost all european countries (perhaps not Finland, here in Sweden they are almost as big)…

  • Jimmy_Gatz

    Hello eyeryone over there, I am a Hockey Fan – from Cologne…
    Actually I was born and raised in Düsseldorf, which is about 40 km north of Cologne. That is why my favorite Hockey Club is not the Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks), but the so called “DEG” (Düsseldorfer EG). To put that in perspective, that’s pretty much the same as being a Flames Fan in Edmonton. They are the biggest rivals in German Hockey – always sell out crowds (the Arenas btw are nearly as big as overseas, audiences between 15k – 20k), huge Games, “real hockey”, four times a year. Great. It’s true that Hockey isn’t a real big deal in Germany, but it is not that small either. One could even claim that it is No. 2 among Teamsports (of course Football / Soccer…).
    The interesting part is that I have been an Oilers supporter since the early 90’s and the reason for that is pretty simple: The Oilers once took part in an exhibition tornament in my hometown! In 1990 the Blues and the Oilers played a 3 Team tournament with my favorite DEG, the so called epson Cup. The Oilers beat the DEG 2-0 but lost 10-1 to the Blues… (no joke…;). I was 13 years old and attended all games. Unfortunately the Wayne Gretzky was traded (I know, in Edmonton you prefer to say “sold” ;), but I can remember watching MarK Messier, Craig MacTavish, Esa Tikkanen and Bill Ranford. And one guy with the surname “Joseph” who constantly abused to the audience – great memories :))

  • Jimmy_Gatz

    So, since then I have been following both. The Oilers and the Blues. It’s fantastic to see the best German Hockey Player in Edmonton and how he is doing. From now on I will give you a little update from time to time how Drai and the Oilers are seen here. First quote from a big German Sports Website: “The first games were a major disapointment… Higher expectations… 😉

    • WillyWonka

      ya, been a pretty disappointing start, losing to teams that were expected wins, then sitting idle while the teams in division are all racking up points, leaving the Oilers with an uphill climb so early in the season.

  • OilersFanInMunich

    Greetings from Munich. Oilers fan since 2011, the Draisaitl pick in 2014 made this relationship perfect … although it’s pretty tough to get up at 4am and watch games.

  • dreierlei

    It’s always a good thing to follow Oilersnation to stay informed. Otherwise I would have never seen this feature about Leon – despite living in Cologne, Germany. 😀